A 16-year-old Flagler Palm Coast High School student and resident of North Daytona Avenue in Flagler Beach faces 11 felony counts of possessing and promoting images of child sexual abuse following an investigation by the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office.
The sheriff’s Detective Dennis Lashbrook, who’s in charge of the agency’s cyber crimes unit, on July 30 got a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children about an allegation of sexual exploitation by way of Instagram and Snapchat. An individual with a specified gmail address appeared to have uploaded two files to the two social media platforms that “appeared to contain suspected child pornography,” according to the boy’s arrest report.
One image depicted the abuse of a prepubescent girl by an adult male, the other depicted a similarly abusive scene but with a younger victim. The so-called “cybertips” also gave the detective the IP addresses associated with the uploading of the images, which were tied to an AT&T account that was then subpoenaed for the associated address. It returned the address on North Daytona Avenue.
In mid-August Circuit Judge Terence Perkins signed a search warrant for the Snapchat and Instagram accounts, with which both companies complied (Instagram is owned by Facebook), enabling the detective to download the requested materials by the end of September. Lashbrook reviewed the contents, found the original suspected images, and found an additional 276 pictures and videos in the records, “with over 100 being underage teen girls showing every body part,” among them four images and four videos that the detective categorized as images of child sexual abuse.
The judge then signed a search warrant for the house on Daytona Avenue. The detective and others, among them members of the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, served the warrant early the morning of Oct. 23. After the warrant was served, the 16-year-old boy told his parents that he had the images of alleged sexual abuse on his iPhone XS Max. The boy attributed the presence of the images on his phone to curiosity, according to his arrest report. By then, Snapchat and Instagram had shut down his accounts because of the suspected materials. Detectives uncovered a second Snapchat account associated with a third cybertip. The boy said there were images associated with that account as well.
The boy had sent pictures of his own genitals to girls within his social media circle, trading pictures with some of them. Detective seized his phone and a Macbook Air for forensic analyses. The computer belongs to the Flagler County school district and was part of the distribution of Macbooks to all high school students. An examination of a folder’s content revealed a note from the boy asking for picture trades, but for “Only good quality pls.” The forensic analysis produced details on many more images and videos of abuse, all of which amount to the rape of pre-pubescent children, reclassifying the charges against the boy to second-degree felonies.
Ten counts are for the possession of images of sexual abuse of a child, one count is for promotion of child sexual abuse.
The child was arrested on Dec. 4 and returned to the custody of his parents. He is to appear before Circuit Judge Chris France, who handles juvenile court.
“Investigations like this are increasingly more important with so many of our kids now learning online,” Sheriff Rick Staly said. “I ask that parents be the Sheriff at home and monitor their kid’s online activity. I also hope this kid gets the help he needs before he progresses to more criminal activity.”
In February, the sheriff’s office arrested a Mondex boy, 15, on charges of possessing, manufacturing and selling images of child sexual abuse, using a PayPal account. The student was not enrolled in the school district at the time.
See the Internet Crimes Against Children’s Task Force Program here.
Guess he pretty much ruined his life with this ? Parents need to have a discussion with their teenagers on this subject. I appreciated my Dad in that regard. He had a zero tolerance policy & made it clear to all of his children. Do something the police would ever show up at his front doorstep to knock on the door that was beyond dying in a traffic accident and we were to consider ourselves no longer a resident at the address. He was hard on the issues, soft on us as people delivering that message. His house, his rules, the moment any of us declared otherwise, that was the day we declared being an adult to provide a roof over our heads anywhere else. Didn’t matter if we were under 18 or over 18, if he was paying the bills, the only Democracy was Mom & Dad’s votes, it was always going to be 2:1.
I hope other minors read this article & my reply and realize that criminal activity will never be tolerated. If any parent doesn’t have the character to raise their children, the prison system will.